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Power source is a game mechanic appearing in Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition. All character classes are defined as having one of six power sources from which their abilities derive: Arcane, Divine, Martial, Primal, Psionic, or Shadow.

Some later classes are dual-typed. In all cases, one of the types is Martial.

Power sources

The listings below exclude hybrid classes, which in all cases share their basic version.

Arcane

Arcane type magic has been defined since earlier editions of Dungeons & Dragons.

Arcane is the most common power source, with fourteen classes. It includes all five archetypes of wizard (Arcanist, Bladesinger, Mage, Sha'ir, and Witch), all of which are Controller; all three types of Warlock, of which the core Warlock and Hexblade are strikers, while the Binder is a Controller; and both Sorcerers (base Sorcerer and Elementalist), both of which are Strikers.

Arcane also contains three Leaders (Artificer, Bard, and Bard Skald) and one Defender (Swordmage). The Skald is uniquely dual-type Arcane/Martial.

Divine

Divine magic is defined as that which comes from worship of the gods. The division between arcane and divine magic has been part of Dungeons & Dragons since the earliest edition of the game.

The Divine power source includes both types of Cleric (Templar and Warpriest), both as Leaders, and the Runepriest, also a Leader; all three types of Paladin, of which the base Paladin and Cavalier are Defenders, while the Blackguard is a Striker; the Avenger, which is also a Striker; and the Invoker, a Controller.

Martial

The Martial power type is an attempt to codify the warrior character archetype originally introduced with Original D&D's "Fighting Man". It is the most common archetype after Arcane.

The Player's Handbook (4e) (2008) initially introduced the Fighter as a Martial Defender, and the Ranger and Rogue as Martial Strikers. The Fighter was later codified as the Knight and expanded with the Weaponmaster, making all Fighter classes Defenders.

The Fighter Slayer archetype is instead a Striker, while the Barbarian Berserker archetype is a dual-type Defender and Striker. Striker is the most common Martial Role, including also both archetypes of Rogue (Scoundrel and Thief), the Assassin Executioner, the base Ranger, and the Ranger Scout.

There are two Martial Leaders: the Warlord, included in the Player's Handbook and later codified as the Warlord Marshal, and the Bard Skald.

The Ranger Hunter is a rare Martial Controller.

Five classes are mixed Martial type and another: the Bard Skald (Arcane), Assassin Executioner (Shadow), and the Ranger Scout, Ranger Hunter, and Barbariab Berserker (Primal).

Primal

The Primal power type is an attempt to define the power source used by druids. In D&D 3.5, druids were explicitly considered divine spellcasters. In D&D 4e, Primal includes all druids and barbarians, some rangers, and some new classes created to fill class roles.

Four Primal classes are Controllers: the base Druid, Druid Protector, the Ranger Hunter, and the new Seeker class. Two are Defenders: the new Warden class, and the Barbarian Berserker; two are Leaders: the Druid (Sentinel) and Shaman; and two Strikers: the original Barbarian, and the Ranger Scout.

Psionic

The Psionic power source represents psionics, a magic-like form of mental control which dates back to early in Dungeons & Dragons' history and has historically been treated as a separate power to magic.

Only four psionic classes appear in D&D 4th edition, one of each class role: the Psion, a wizard-like Controller; the Battlemind, a fighter-like Defender; the Ardent, a new psionic Leader class; and the Monk, a Striker.

The monk's status as psionic is a change new to D&D 4th edition, though not entirely unprecedented. In D&D 3.5, the monk drew their power from "ki", a vaguely defined internal power attained through mental and physical discipline. In the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer (2000), the Greyhawk deity Zuoken was said to have mastered the practice of both unarmed combat and psionics.

Shadow

Only two classes ever used the shadow type: the assassin, and the vampire class. Both are striker types.

References

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